Price of Life

An online exhibition curated by Holly Smith



“Everything’s going up, nothings coming down. It’s affecting some people more than others.” Cameron Morgan


The Price of Life is an online exhibition curated from archived artworks created by visiting and resident artists practicing in the Project Ability studios. The exhibition is a continuation of the recent project ‘The Cost of Living’, visualising conversations into constellations of prints, paintings and sculptures exploring imagery of food, money, community and independence.


The Cost of Living (April 2022) began in the Aspire Monday afternoon workshops, collecting and assembling plastic food packaging and carrier bags into an inflated sculpture. During the eight weeks spent constructing the sculpture I was able to discuss the project with the other artists working in the studio and consider the individual and collective impacts of increasing living costs.


The intent of the exhibition is to examine collective concerns over the social and political realities through the creative talent of the Project Ability artists. The art works visually and thematically connect the personal and political by juxtaposing every-day essentials and indulgent extravagances, devastating realities and imagined utopias.


Practicing as part of the creative community at Project Ability has provided many opportunities for enriching and inspiring conversations with other artists practicing in the studio. ‘The Price of Life’ presented an opportunity to continue collaborating and a platform to consider the individual and unequal impacts of the cumulative economic and environmental crisis. The exhibition celebrates the values of collaborative practice and the dynamic, creative environment of the Project Ability studios.



Gary Turner, Cameron Morgan, Doreen Kay, Jonathan McKinstry and John Cocozza further supported this project by reflecting upon their art works in the context of the exhibition and providing insight into their creative process.


The imagery and issues explored in ‘The Price of Life’ are further examined in previous exhibitions ‘The Time Is Now’ and Food To Go. To learn more about the exhibiting artists and their practice visit their profiles linked below. Some of the art works included in the exhibition are available to buy in the Project Ability shop.





Featured Artworks:

Cameron Morgan ‘£1 Note’, Robert Reddick- ‘Earthclock 2’, Sarah Dalzell & Rosie Snaith ‘All That’s Left Is Plastic’, Jacqui Smyth ‘Starbucks’, John Cocozza ‘Save Our Seas’, Jonathan McKinstry ‘Not The Last Supper’, Christopher Newman ‘The Fires’


Exhibiting Artists:

Carole Lee, Jonathan McKinstry, Cameron Morgan, Lewis Scott, Lesley Nimmo, Robert Reddick, Nnena Kalu, Lesley Thomson, Doreen Kay, Jacqui Smyth, John Cocozza, Sarah Dalzell & Rosie Snaith, Christopher Newman, John Heath, Louis O’Coffey, Terry Williams, Tommy Mason, Steven Reilly, David Roeder, Robert Cornish, Ian Doak, Aiden Kelley, Polly Burnett, Stephanie Thomson, Gary Turner, Adnan Mohammed, Holly Smith







Gary Turner


Throughout the ‘Cost of Living’ project I worked alongside Gary in the studio while he was busy working on a series of large canvases exhibited recently as part of his solo exhibition at Mono. Gary supported the ‘Cost of Living’ project by sharing his concerns over the increasing food costs as well as supplying carrier bags to be used in constructing the sculpture. 

Our conversations and shared anxieties influenced The Price of Life project as many of the themes examined in the exhibition emerged initially in the studio. Meeting again for this project we discussed Gary’s paintings, their connection to the environmental themes of the exhibition through the imagined harmony between people and nature, and the ambiguous reading of the title ‘What should I do now?’ 

Gary’s interest in anime and Studio Ghibli are reflected in the ethereal beauty of his paintings which allows the viewer a temporary escape from reality. Gary described his work with the Japanese term, Isekai, a sub-genre of fantasy in which a character is suddenly transported from their world into a new or unfamiliar one.



Cameron Morgan


Reflecting on the project, Cameron Morgan and I discussed how his diverse practice visualised many of the themes explored in the exhibition, providing insight into the creative and collaborative process involved in making ‘Ringtone 1960′,’£1 Note’, ‘Car Key’ and ‘Jammie Dodgers’. Reflecting on the important role Project Ability has in supporting his career as an artist Cameron said:


Project Ability has been good to me. My work gets shown, on my own I could not make a living on my own like that because I wouldn’t know how to go about it. And it’s not easy selling your art work. It looks easy. It’s no. There’s no other place like it, there’s no other organisation that does this, apart from Project Ability.”



Doreen Kay


 In her practice Doreen often paints portraitures that capture happy memories of her friends and family, often working from photographs taken on holiday. In our conversation Doreen discussed how she has been aware of how Glasgow’s high street has been impacted by the closure of shops and fondly reminisced about shopping on Sauchiehall Street.


In response of the increasing living costs, Doreen and I advocate the importance of small luxuries and the financial benefits of dying your own hair. Doreen recommends having a holiday to look forward to and is herself looking forward to her upcoming holiday in St Annes with her sister. My conversation with Doreen is reflected in the paintings of Jacqui Smyth, celebrating the importance of affordable indulgences.



Jonathan McKinstry


Jonathan McKinstry’s paintings ‘Not the Last Supper’ and ‘Fruit Banquet’ celebrates food as more than an essential, highlighting the way eating connects us with wider resources and community. When we met to discuss his work in the context of the exhibition, Jonathan and I consider the freedom offered by inexpensive art material and Bob Ross as the celebrity guest he would invite to his last supper. 


Holly: Have you noticed the cost of living affecting your life with prices going up?


Jonathan: Yeah. Things like the price of paint and things like that. I’ve started shopping in Poundland, and the painting I did last year was mostly Poundland paint for it, but you cant really tell though. Paint is paint, you know?


Holly: Yeah! I suppose thats the thing about being an artist, you can be quite creative in what your doing and find alternatives to things.


Jonathan: Plus when you buy the big high end paints, your frightened to use them up. ‘Oh no thats £20 going down the toilet!’ 


Continuing with his Poundland paint, in combination with high quality paints provided by Project Ability, Jonathan is currently working on a series of large canvases of animals in famous cities.  His work, alongside Gary Turner’s has recently been exhibited as part of the Para-art International Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan!

The imagery of food, community and extravagance are continued in Carol Lee’s large mixed media scenes and juxtapose the everyday essentials explored in the paintings of Lewis Scott and Lesley Nimmo.




John Cocozza


In our conversation John and I discussed his painting ‘Save Our Seas’, his motivation for creating the work and the carrier bags connection between our artworks. As well as exploring similar subject matter, John and I both use art making therapeutically, to help process emotions and to connect with other people.


Holly: Do you find when you have a lot going on in your head that it helps to make an image?


John: Aye. When I’m trying to work it out in my head, the first thing I do is get a bit of paper to start off. I do that first from what’s in my head and then I think about what colours I want to put in, because there is a lot colours wise, a lot of things to work with anyway. I think it’s a nice picture.


Holly: Your image is great to look at, but also it gives you something to think about. I was drawn to the painting because it speaks to a wider problem that I am part of as I use plastics and where do they all go? It really makes you think.


John: Yeah. I did a lot of thinking in my head in order to do that and it took about four days to do it all. It is a big painting, I had to think about how to go about it.


 Themes of plastic and pollution are further examined in this exhibition in the painting ‘All thats Left is Plastic by Sarah Dalzell & Rosie Snaith, and Nnena Khalu’s sculptural use of plastic.





Holly Smith


I am a visual artist and art psychotherapist practicing in Glasgow. My creative practice is sculptural and community-based, considering the responsibilities of art in social contexts. As an undergraduate Sculpture and Environmental Art student I collaborated with Project Ability in the projects ‘Common Ground and Alter Ego‘. Being part of the creative community at Project Ability, working in the inclusive, collaborative studio environment had a profound impact upon my thinking as an artist and motivated my postgraduate training in Art Psychotherapy. Project Ability is a vital resource supporting and celebrating diversity within the contemporary visual arts, providing artists a space to create art work about what we feel is important.


I would like to say thank you to all of the Project Ability community for their time, support and creative talent involved in this project.